Cherokee tribe were desperate to save their language and asked Apple to include it on the iPhone.
Not all requests gets a scathy reply from Steve Jobs. When Cherokee tribal officials pleaded Apple to include Cherokee as an available language on the iPhone, the Cupertino giant, almost uncharacteristically, agreed.
Tribal Chief Chad Smith speaking to The Associated Press said that the tribe was desperate to preserve the language which was in danger of being extinct. Of the tribe’s 290,000 members, only about 8,000 spoke the Cherokee language, and those who did were mostly above 50 years or older. The tribe soon realized that the only way to get its people to learn the official language is to implement into a popular technology. And what could be more popular than an iPhone?
“If you don’t figure out a way to keep technology exciting and innovative for the language, kids have a choice when they get on a cell phone,” Joseph Erb, a worker in the Cherokee Nation’s language technology division, said.
“If it doesn’t have Cherokee on it, they all speak English. They’ll just give up their Cherokee … because the cool technology is in English. So we had to figure out a way to make the cool technology in Cherokee.”
Discussions between Apple and the tribe went over for a period of years, with Chief Smith even making a personal visit to the Apple camp to make the request in person. The tribe wasn’t informed that their request has been granted until shortly before the release of iOS 4.1
Cherokee language is supported on the iPhone and iPod Touch running on iOS 4.1 or later.